There are so many factors that contribute to success in business. The type of business you’re in will also change those factors, but for all business-to-consumer (B2C) style companies, customer service plays a large role in success. Employees and business leaders alike are more successful when they have high emotional intelligence (EQ).

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence or EQ, is the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions correctly. Having a high EQ allows one to connect with others easily. While the number of components that make up EQ is debated, for simplicity’s sake, there are 4 major components.

Perceiving emotions is the ability to accurately decipher what emotion is being displayed. In-person, this is picking up on body language, facial expressions, overall behavior, and the intonation or way that someone is speaking. Customer service jobs that are done over the phone only have voice cues and this becomes even harder with text chats, as the diction given is the only clue. High EQ allows people to do this easier, even with no job experience, although someone experienced at the job with high EQ will still do better.

Understanding emotions are the “why” of the matter. If you can pinpoint the origin of a certain emotion, you have a higher chance of being able to help the said person. This is generally easier in customer service as anger or frustration are two major emotions being displayed by customers (generally).

Reasoning with emotions is the act of using emotions to steer how someone thinks. This can refer to how you choose to handle a situation or how a person will react to different stimuli.

Managing emotions is probably the most critical component while dealing with customers. Being able to respond in an appropriate manner while maintaining your sense of empathy and composure will lead to high customer success rates as well as more loyal customers. Ask anyone in a customer or tech support role and you’ll find a common theme of being berated by irate customers. Understanding where their anger comes from will allow you to stay level-headed and problem solve rationally, instead of snapping back due to frustration.

What Does It Do for You?

A high EQ allows any customer-facing position to provide a deeper level of service. This translates to an excellent customer service experience, which then turns into customer retention, which means repeat business and free advertising. 

According to an article on Zendesk, “89% of people surveyed said a quick response time is a driving factor when choosing what company they will buy from, while a majority of customers said bad customer service impacted their decision to buy as well as telling others not to do business with said company. In addition, 67% of customers who experienced good customer service recommended that company to other people, namely family and close friends. This is the cycle you want to repeat as the web of customers expands exponentially with each new customer. This is a “free” form of advertising. However, the more impactful reason to have customer service with high EQ is to avoid bad publicity. 46% of people who experienced bad publicity will remember it for a longer period of time (2 or more years according to Zendesk’s survey) and will tell others to avoid your product. Bad news tends to stick around longer than good news, so if great customer service brings in new people and the effect is wide range, negative reviews can have a much bigger impact as you will be remembered for that one time service was bad. These negative effects are long-lasting and can be devastating, especially for smaller businesses. Higher emotional intelligence brings about higher success rates in your company and employees.

Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Employees

Going for the obvious first, some jobs require high EQ. Any customer-facing jobs like customer/tech service or sales are best suited to those who can connect and understand others accurately and effectively, then act on it accordingly.

Being able to empathize with a customer allows customer/tech support staff to provide better service. Diffusing high tension situations becomes easier with higher levels of EQ. Staff with higher EQ can accurately analyze a situation and navigate it in such a way that the customer gets what they want as well as positively impacting their mood. On the other hand, someone with low EQ can instigate the situation further and leave the customer unsatisfied and in a worse mood than before, thereby telling everyone in their social circle what a horrible experience they had and driving away potential customers.

People with higher EQs also exhibit other factors that make them better in the workplace. The biggest one with customer-facing jobs is the ability to make rational decisions rather than emotionally driven ones. This is hugely important as in the previous example, the negative impact drives away customers. This also impacts other types of jobs as well, as it could be the difference between having an employee storm off and quit when they are reprimanded, or simply having them stay cool-headed and explaining their side of the story and working it out with you.

Another benefit is higher levels of impulse control. This stops employees from electing to be distracted or goofing off due to external stimuli, such as coworkers and phones. Essentially they have a higher level of duty and responsibility, as they can empathize with those in charge, as opposed to someone with low EQ who sees the upper management as enemies.

Lastly, there is a correlation between company loyalty and high EQ. This means staff with high emotional intelligence will show a greater willingness to go above and beyond in order to help the company achieve its goals. This could be in the form of always being at work, working overtime, doing special projects even if they aren’t under their job description. Anything that isn’t on their contract and they’re willing to do counts towards this.

Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Leaders

High EQ is more beneficial in your managers than in lower-level staff. This isn’t to say that you can cut the costs of recruiting employees with high EQ and replace them with a manager with high EQ, it just means that leaders impact those under them, and having one that understands their team and all their individual needs and aspirations impacts the company greatly.

Leaders with high EQ are more adept at understanding, motivating, and ultimately controlling their staff. Being able to connect with staff is important as it allows information to be gathered from the staff. This information could be used in a number of ways, to cheer them up when they’re not feeling well, calm them down when an altercation occurs, or directly impact how they function in the workplace. They are also able to understand what motivates their staff and act accordingly.

Higher moral rates happen in teams with a high EQ leader. This is due to the leader being able to inspire their staff accordingly. As staff members are unique, they have to be dealt with in different ways. Team member A might not respond the same way as team member B with a given method of praise. When the team morale is low due to an unavoidable error, a leader with high EQ will know how to pick everyone up and get them back on the right track, working as efficiently as before.

For lack of better words, being able to control your team is important when trying to be efficient and successful in the workplace. Changing their mood with information you might know, as stated before, motivating them through the use of what you know about them, and knowing how to discipline them if it comes to that. Through intimate knowledge of a person, they can steer them in the right direction, thereby realigning them with the company’s overall goals.

As a result of all this, the group will function better together. Team cohesion will be higher than before, and the results of their work will reflect this. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit in a real-world scenario as teams are built up of individuals with their own personalities, it takes a leader who can mesh well with all of them to lead.

Wrap Up

Generally, high EQ translates to higher quality social relationships and all the benefits that are associated with that. This means being able to easily connect with people, for employees this means easily communicating with customers and clients in a rational way that brings in more business. For leaders, this means being able to properly lead your team. Overall higher EQ brings about more positive returns and also strengthens the company culture. High EQ shouldn’t be seen as a fancy buzzword or a novelty in a company, but as an asset needed for success.